ENGLAND vs ITALY
Twickenham, Sunday, 3pm
A FOURTH consecutive 2013 Six Nations victory would leave England in a superb position to secure a first grand slam for a decade. Stuart Lancaster’s plan in the opening three matches could have hardly been activated better and now only Italy and Wales remain in the way of a memorable clean sweep.
England are 1/10 to win the tournament and 4/7 to bring home the ultimate prize. Before the showdown in Wales, the Red Rose play Italy at Twickenham, looking to maintain their 100% record over their opponents in what will be the 19th meeting in all competitions.
England’s cause has been helped by the news that Tom Croft, left, has been given the all clear after coming through back-to-back games for Leicester Tigers. He’s unlikely to feature for the full 80 minutes, but can gain valuable playing time ahead of the trip to the Millennium Stadium.
Italy coach Jacques Brunel has his own good news as he welcomes back captain Sergio Parrisse after his ban for insulting a referee was reduced and the talismanic captain should bring some stability to the side.
Having secured an historic 23-18 win over France in the first round, Italy have been unable to sustain that intensity. The Azzurri have since suffered successive defeats in which they have conceded a total of 60 points to Scotland and Wales, while England put 59 points on them on their last visit to HQ.
A total of 159 points have been scored against Italy over the last four games at Twickenham and form suggests more is to come on Sunday. England are the top championship scorers with 73 points and their total of 37 conceded is the fewest.
Since their first meeting in 1991, the Red Rose have averaged 40 points per match with Italy and the Italians have averaged just over 13 per game in reply.
Even Parrisse’s inclusion shouldn’t be enough to stop England running away with this and another strong finish is predicted as they utilise their options from the bench. England also have an opportunity to boost their points difference, with the outside chance it comes down to mathematics on the final weekend. Backing England with the -26 handicap at 10/11 with Coral is recommended, as is buying their supremacy at 28 with Sporting Index.
England with -26 handicap at 10/11 with Coral
Buy England’s supremacy at 28 with Sporting Index